European Dressage Championships: Great Britain target medal without Valegro

Equestrian
Charlotte Dujardin (left) alongside Carl Hester at the 2016 Olympics in Rio

Olympic dressage gold medallist Carl Hester says it will be a "hard task" for Great Britain to win a European medal without retired horse Valegro.

For the first time in six years, three-time Olympic champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro will not feature at a major championships.

Great Britain have named an all-male team for the first time since 1977.

"If we can achieve it [a medal] of course it would show we have depth in our sport," Hester told BBC Guernsey.

"He [Valegro] is that special and different - we just have to remember that he was a different species compared to most of the horses out there today."

Hester, 50, will compete on his own horse Nip Tuck at the championships in Sweden between 22 and 27 August, alongside team-mates Emile Faurie, Gareth Hughes and Spencer Wilton.

Valegro retired in December, while Dujardin is set to return for the World Championships and 2020 Olympics, but Hester says he does not feel pressure to find Valegro's successor.

"It's not a millstone around my neck, but it is for all the other horses in the yard because I think we expect them all to be that good," he added.

"It would be great for the sport and it would be great for the British team if we could bring home a medal without Valegro. It's going to be a hard task."

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